Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief
This year’s aggressive flu season led Governor Kay Ivey to declare a state of emergency on January 11. By that date, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) was investigating 44 cases of influenza-associated deaths and one confirmed case of influenza-associated pediatric death. Of those 44 deaths, ten occurred in the northeastern region where Calhoun County is located. This is the second highest death total in the state behind the northern region with 14 deaths.
“We have a crisis situation going on,” said Scott Harris, the acting state health officer said in a press conference. “This is the normal season of the flu, [and it is] nothing out of ordinary in the type … but we are seeing large numbers.”
On January 12, the Montgomery Advertiser reported that seven public health districts in Alabama reported hospitals with more than 90 percent of their beds filled.
The question now is how to keep the illness from spreading further.
On Tuesday, the JSU Office of Public Relations sent out an email with tips for preventing the flu and treating symptoms once it has been contracted.
Basic tips for preventing flu include: washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; avoiding close contact with sick people; practicing good health habits like getting plenty of sleep and exercise, managing stress, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating healthy; and covering your nose or mouth with a tissue after sneezing.
Both ADPH and JSU recommend the flu shot. Though it is less effective than in past years, those who contract the flu after receiving the flu shot often experience less severe symptoms than those who did not receive the shot. This year’s quadrivalent vaccine protects against four strains of flu and is the only vaccine to protect against Influenza B, according to the ADPH.
The JSU health center is offering the flu shot free of charge to students and employees while supplies last. Health professionals note that it takes the human body approximately two weeks after receiving the shot to build up an immunity.
Symptoms of the flu include a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills and fatigue. Persons with the flu can run a fever of 100 degrees or higher, but this is not always the case. Many children also experience nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, but this symptom can also appear in adults.
Once a person contracts the flu, treatment options include the prescription anti-viral, oral medication Tamiflu or a regimen of Tylenol, Motrin and steady hydration.
ADPH and JSU urge those who are showing symptoms of the flu to stay home from work and school to avoid spreading the illness. Those who have been exposed to the flu should take preventative actions.